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Nairobi Matatu Women Hardest Hit By COVID-19

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Women in the transport industry in Nairobi have been hit hardest by COVID-19, with their daily earnings dropping by 83 per cent, if the latest report revealed on Friday September 4 is anything to go by.

As a result, they make as little as Ksh100 to Ksh200 a day down from between Ksh600 to Ksh1,200 before the pandemic.

This dip in earnings is detailed in a Flone Initiative report on the impacts of COVID-19 on women professionals in public transport released last week.

A female Citi Hoppa conductor at Kencom bus station. Source: The Star

The report assessed women professionals (drivers, conductors, booking clerks and mechanics) working in public service vehicles in the Nairobi Metropolitan Area.

The assessment was conducted in April when 30 women were surveyed through telephone interviews.

According to the report, 52 per cent of women in the transport industry have lost their jobs largely because their employment is informal and does not come with job security.

“Those women still working in public transport fear contracting COVID-19 since their job entails interacting with customers and handling money. However, for many women, staying indoors is not an option since they rely on the money they make every day to buy food supplies,” the report revealed.

The report found that the majority are worried they will not be able to provide for their families and keep their children in school with meagre or no earnings.

A matatu terminus in Nairobi. Source: File

Some who are forced to service loans from Saccos for their upkeep are likely to default.

“As a mitigation measure, they are considering moving to cheaper housing, skipping meals, and suspending their monthly savings. The respondents further noted that some of their male colleagues take advantage of the situation and ask for sexual favours in exchange for jobs,” the report added.

The respondents disclosed that some passengers are reluctant to use the sanitiser provided as they board matatus, saying they are fake and ineffective.

“Ninety-seven per cent of the respondents cited lack of food as their primary concern. Uncontrolled fluctuation in the cost of basic foods and commodities had further shrunk the wage earned by workers, making it difficult to access affordable food,” the report reveals.

Nearly 3.17 million young Kenyans eligible for work or school are idle in the three months to June, underlining the time bomb of youth unemployment in an economy shedding jobs.

Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) data released on Thursday September 3 showed that the number of persons aged between 15 and 34 who were not learning or working has increased from 2.75 million in December and two million in June last year.

This means that more than 1.6 million young people joined the ranks of those considered idle in a business environment where about 1.72 million workers lost jobs in quarter to June when Kenya imposed coronavirus-induced lockdown that led to layoffs and pay cuts.

Kenyans lining up outside an office for a job application. Source: Business Daily

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